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12 things you can do to Build Public Will around your summer program

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Opinions

Momentum is growing in Washington State around summer learning and providing more support to increase access to quality summer learning opportunities.  Join our movement this summer to demonstrate to our local elected officials and decision makers  the importance of summer learning in keeping kids learning, healthy, engaged, and ready to return to school on track in the fall.

Check out these 12 things you can do to build public will for summer in your community.  These activities are engaging and fun for youth and families and raise awareness of your program while also building a stronger sense of community.  Do you have other suggestions? Please send them to Danielle Baer, SOWA’s Communications Manager.

  1. Take your youth on field trips within your local community! Field trips throughout the community serve 2 purposes‑they are not only fun and educational for young people, but they also let the wider community know about your program.
  2. Invite community members to be guest readers or story tellers in your program. This will connect community members to the work you do.
  3. Check out SOWA’s Summer Learning Media outreach toolkit with a step-by-step guide on how to engage media, with sample op-eds, letters to the editor, and other tools to support your efforts to reach out to media and raise awareness of your summer program.
  4. Post colorful banners, signs, and flyers throughout your community advertising your program.
  5. Host site visits with funders, community leaders, elected officials, etc. Give them a tour of your site and provide them with a take-away packet of information about your program and its impact so they can share with others.
  6. Have youth write letters to decision makers (board members, local leaders, legislators, etc) about their experience in your program.  Also, sharing pictures, short stories, or other visuals of the impact of the summer learning programs on youth, parents, and the community as a whole is important for decision makers to hear and see. You can visit our state advocacy page for tips on site visits. You can also contact Lynne Tucker, SOWA’s Education Policy & Advocacy Director, with any questions or for support this summer with site visits.
  7. Take lots photos of your program and post them to social media (make sure you include a photo release section in your enrollment form so you have parental permission to take photos).
  8. Start a blog, such as this one from one of SOWA’s Feed Your Brain grantees last year.
  9. Start promoting your program in September! Go to early school board or city council meetings to share your photos, letters, videos, and personal testimony to promote your activities for next summer.
  10. Create a video! Such as this one (again, make sure you have parent permission)
  11. Host an open house event inviting parents, community members, business leaders, decision makers, etc., where students can showcase their summer program accomplishments.
  12. Host a Summer Learning Day event on June 21 or any day during the summer! The National Summer Learning Association has a toolkit with resources to help you plan your event.

For more ideas on building public will for your program, check out our online toolkit.

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